This custard ice cream recipe is a building block for any ice cream you have the imagination to create. It can be enriched, infused, tricked up, or paired down until you get your ice cream just the way you like it.
Heating the milk before adding it to the egg mixture might seem like a needless step. Adding pre-heated milk reduces cooking time and starts to heat the eggs slowly and gently, which thickens the custard without risking cooked eggs.
Be careful not to add the milk while it's still to hot or you'll get scrambled eggs. Ideally, you should be able to comfortably hold your finger in the milk for 10 seconds.
Basic Custard Ice Cream Base
3 cups dairy (whole milk, heavy cream, or a mix)
1 cup sugar
8 egg yolks
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla (optional)
Have a strainer in a bowl ready over an ice bath.
Bring the dairy to a simmer in a medium pot over medium-high heat--about 5 minutes. Watch it carefully so it doesn't boil over. Remove from heat as soon as you see bubbles forming and let sit until it's cooled to room temperature--about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, beat the eggs, sugar, and pinch of salt into a thick paste. When the dairy has cooled, stream it in while stirring the egg mixture.
Once combined, return everything to the pan and cook over medium-low heat. Stir gently in an "S" shape, being sure to scrape the bottom of the pan.
The sauce is ready when it looks silky, has thickened so it coats the back of a wooden spoon, and has reached a temperature of about 170-degrees. Strain it into a bowl set over an ice water bath and stir in the vanilla.
When cooled, freeze mixture in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.
Related: Recipe: Basic Vanilla Ice Cream